Publication Details

Cahill, R. (2014). A case of open access. Recorder, (279), 4-5.

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I support ‘open access’, the enabling of unrestricted and free internet access to peer-reviewed scholarly research. Too much academic/scholarly writing is locked up behind the paywalls of multinational publishing empires, generating enormous profits from the unpaid, often publicly financed, labours of vassal scholars/academics. So too with scholarly books, confined as they are by small print runs and exorbitant ‘library copy/sale’ prices.

To my mind there is much in contemporary scholarly publishing practice that reminds me of the medieval library at the heart of Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose (1980), hidden as it is in a labyrinth, accessible only to the librarian and his assistant, its contents protected by poison and murder. Today, much scholarly work is not publicly circulated, but locked up and limited to a privileged and paying few. Which is the name of the game, since a lot of scholarly research, particularly in the humanities, is presented in jargon and genres aimed at specialist audiences. Publishers have scholars over a barrel here; international practice is that this sort of confined niche publication constitutes the pathway to career enhancement/advancement.